Summer Tips

Texas Grid Conditions

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the power supply for more than 26 million Texas customers, representing about 90% of the state's electric load. ERCOT is tasked with keeping track of the supply, demand, and grid conditions based on megawatt (mw) usage. With triple digit temperatures expected to continue this summer, it's important to conserve energy to protect our grid and avoid potential rolling-blackouts. Rolling blackouts are controlled, temporary power outages that occur when the operating reserves fall below 1,000 MW, protect the sensitive grid equipment from being overloaded, and bring down the supply and demand. Follow the helpful tips below to join in the effort to conserve our energy reserves!

Energy Conservation Tips

  • Set your thermostat at 78 degrees fahrenheit or higher - every degree of extra cooling will increase energy usage six to eight percent
  • Use ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate cool air
  • Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade tour home from the sun
  • Close interior blinds, drapes, or shades to block the sun and heat during warm weather
  • Use a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer
  • Outside air conditioning units, or condensers, should be shaded
  • If you leave your home for more than four hours, raise your thermostat to 80 degrees fahrenheit or higher
  • Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster
  • Try to save heat and humidity-generating activities (cooking, laundering, and dishwashing) for early morning or evening hours 

Outage Preparation Tips

  • Make sure your phone and other necessary electronics are charged.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries handy.
  • Stay hydrated and keep water available to everyone in the home.
  • If the power goes out, do not open your refrigerator or freezer. Get out the items you may need now. 
  • Keep your blinds, curtains, and doors closed at all times to keep in any cool air. 
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes to help maintain your body temperature.
  • Never use a generator indoors.
  • If you experience an outage, turn off all electrical appliances and unplug air-conditioning units, computers, and televisions. Your circuits could overload when power returns if all your electronics are still plugged in. Leave one light switched on so you’ll know when the electricity is back.

Water Conservation Tips

  • Fix any dripping or leaking faucets and pipes
  • Install WaterSense toilets in your home to use 1.28 gallons less per flush
  • Take shorter showers. Reducing your showering time from eight minutes to five minuets could save you more than 600 gallons of water per month 
  • Install WaterSense shower heads in your home that save 2,900 gallons of water a year
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full
  • Scrape dirty dishes clean instead of rinsing them before washing and let the dishwasher do the work
  • Insulate all hot-water pipes to reduce delays and waster water experienced while waiting for the water to become hot
  • Water your lawn or garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation
  • A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture, so adjust your lawn mover to a higher setting
  • Choose drought-tolerant plants and shrubs and ground cover instead of turf for hard-to-water areas 
  • Create 'dry space' in your yard by laying down pavers or flagstone to make a decorative area that doesn't need to be watered 
  • Mulching in flower beds allows plants to retain moisture
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk
  • Use a commercial car wash that recycles water rather than washing your car at home

Prepare yourself and your family for extreme heat

There's hot weather, and then there's Texas weather! South-Central Texas summers typically bring extreme heat and humidity with temperatures in the triple digits. If you're outside in extreme heat, your body works twice as hard to maintain a normal internal temperature, which in some cases can lead to death. According to the National Safety Council, heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among weather-related hazards. Follow these easy tips to prepare for this year's extreme heat: 

  • Recognize the signs of heat illness
  • Cool down by removing access clothing and taking sips of water. Do not use fans as a primary source for cooling as they create a false sense of comfort and do not reduce the body's temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses
  • Follow the City of San Marcos on Facebook to see what cooling centers are available to the community
  • Cover windows with drapes or shades
  • Weather-strip doors and windows
  • Use sun screens for windows
  • If you are unable to afford cooling costs, weatherization, or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help